Come, sweet one. Look how you’ll dance. Look into the mouth of your future, and see its cherry-tinted tongue. Take genders. Take desires, take them all.
“I came out too late,” you say.
Bitterly, you shout, “straight people hate me and so do queers. Not straight enough, not queer enough. That’s me. I don’t deserve to fit.”
In reply, a childish red scent fruits the air and tickles your nose. The smell comes from a bowl of cherries, offered to you as a welcome gift. All of them shine. Unafraid, and falling in love with your own tastes, you take one.
Enter. This future is just for you, just as it is justfor everyone. This is how bisexuality can feel, but not always how it is. Pain stirs in your bones.
You manage to ground yourself. You feel the shapes of so many discarded cherry stones beneath your feet. A thousand juice-drenched lips summon you.
You can do this.
Pain always drags at you. Snags at you, in moments like these; it grasps from the past and says to your advancing foot, “wait, here is a memory. Remember what he did to you. It’s not safe to tread there.”
Slowly, you take its tired hand in yours and say gently, “I know you’re there. I love you and I won’t forget you. I love how you have helped me travel in time, but you cannot keep my body in the past.”
Welcome, sweet one.
This room is exactly the same as the one next-door, the one opposite, above and below. In other rooms, there might be the addition of a grey corporate chair, or there might be a different picture on the wall, beside the flat-screen television. The picture will be one of two: three blue lollipop-shaped trees with equal spaces between them, growing from red grass, against a purple sky; or an anodyne close-up of a thistle.
Asiya has seen both pictures.
Why the fuck are the trees in the picture blue?
Perhaps the hotel chain thinks the tree picture is inoffensive. She doesn’t think it is.
He’s finished shouting at her for now. She drags her body from the bed and walks to the bathroom.
The taps are modern and shiny. Asiya bends toward the sink to splash cold water on her face. She catches sight of her nose reflected back at her. She’s been crying for hours, so she looks like a clown. The sink is a big, blank, white square. She leans upon it, one hand on each corner. She lifts her face and looks into the large clean mirror. She looks thin and tired in the bright white light. The floor is made of a grey plastic material. It has flecks. They irritate her. Does the designer think that people look at them and admire the imagination and inventiveness of the pattern?
Asiya sees in the mirror that he has got up from the bed and is dressing. He’s storming out. She hears him push the smooth metal handle of the hotel room door. There is silence for a second, and then a smooth, satisfying click as the door slides shut.
Victoria Brooks is a researcher and writer living in London. She writes about sex, ethics, bisexuality and trauma recovery, and is a graduate student on the MA Novel Writing program at Middlesex University. She writes queer fiction and her writing has been published in Litro, Stone of Madness Press and Lickerish Library. Victoria is working on her first queer sci-fi novel and you can find her work at https://victoriathewriter.com/ and follow her on Twitter @V_Eleuteria and Instagram @Queermistresswifehuman